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Liberia from civil war chaos to fragile hope

world Updated: Oct 09, 2011 19:07 IST

From 1989-2003, Liberia became for many a byword for savagery as up to a quarter of a million people were killed in a civil war, while thousands more were mutilated and raped, often by armies of drugged child soldiers led by ruthless warlords.

Here is a timeline of events from 1989, plotting the country's fragile stability since the war and growing hopes of oil and iron riches if Saturday's second presidential election since the conflict passes off smoothly and bolsters peace.

1989 - Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) begins an uprising against the government of President Samuel Doe, who himself came to power in a coup in 1980.

1990 - Peacekeeping troops from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) intervene in Liberia. Doe's torture and killing by an NPFL splinter group is recorded on video.

1997 - After several years of chaotic fighting, Taylor wins a presidential election.

July 2000 - Stability remains elusive. Government reports first attacks by rebels who identify themselves as Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD).

2003 - Rebels close in on Monrovia. A new rebel force, Movement for Democracy in Liberia (Model), emerges. Taylor is indicted by a UN-backed war crimes court for his alleged role in fuelling Sierra Leone's 1991-2002 civil war.

June 2003 - Warring factions sign a ceasefire leading to talks to form a transitional government without Taylor. In July, Taylor, under US pressure, accepts Nigerian offer of asylum.

August 2003 - Nigerian soldiers arrive as part of new African peacekeeping force, to be followed by a UN force. Government and rebels sign a peace deal setting up new transitional administration to prepare for elections in 2005. In the months that follow, an interim leader is appointed and rebel fighters hand in weapons under UN-backed disarmament scheme.

Oct 11, 2005 - Parliamentary election and first round of presidential election. Former soccer star George Weah comes first, but loses a Nov 8 run-off against Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

May 1, 2007 - Liberia relaunches its diamond trade after the United Nations lift an embargo.

Feb 21, 2008 - US President George W Bush promises steadfast US support for Liberia's recovery from civil war.

Feb 12, 2009 - President Johnson-Sirleaf admits to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission she initially backed a rebellion led by Taylor but was misled into supporting the man who is now on trial for war crimes in the Hague.

July 12, 2011 - US major Chevron Corp says it plans to start drilling its first deepwater well off the coast of Liberia by the end of the year.
September 27 - Steel giant ArcelorMittal says it has formally started iron ore production in Liberia.

Oct. 11 - First round of presidential election.